Thanks to some advance notification work along the Minnesota River, CURE and Land Stewardship Project staff and Big Stone Local Foods group members are hosting paddler-adventurers Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren along their route from Minneapolis all the way to Hudson Bay!
Natalie and Ann are chronicling their adventures on their blog, as well as a website that describes the project in more detail. They hope to be the first women to complete the journey by canoe, and are raising money for YMCA Camp Menogyn, where the friends met in 2007.
Recent graduates of St. Olaf turned students-of-the-river, Ann and Natalie have learned a lot about sustainable and not-so-sustainable farming practices along the watershed:
Our environmental backgrounds have come in handy. We have spent some time talking about the flooding and pollution issues concerning the river and documenting things like crops growing straight up to the river bank, small or no buffer zones, and cows standing right in the river. Thanks to non-profit and community groups along the river, the Minnesota has improved in the last few years but there is still so much work to be done. We need to realize that healthy water-ways and healthy communities are directly correlated and that towns along the river have the potential to spark big change in environmental and public health issues in Minnesota and beyond. [“Layover Day in Montevideo.” 18 June 2011.]
After coming off the river in Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge late Tuesday afternoon, they traveled to Clinton with their hosts for showers, drying off from days paddling in the rain, and a hosted local foods dinner at The Kitchen–a community project to rejuvenate a former cafe space in downtown Clinton, Minnesota. Wednesday morning, they visited women farmers in Traverse County for breakfast and a dip in the hot tub!
Tonight, the Big Stone Local Foods group is hosting a potluck for our guests, who portaged their canoe the final distance to Ortonville from the Refuge this afternoon, and will be tackling Big Stone Lake starting tomorrow.
Best wishes to our new-found river friends for fair winds and safe paddling! May you have fond memories of your Minnesota River adventure, and visit us again soon!